Gibbs, Jeffrey A. Matthew 1:1-11:1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2006.
“Matthew’s Intention:Themes” pp. 47-59
Gibbs finds three summary statements in Matthew’s Gospel, at 4:23, 9:35, and 11:1, which all describe the work of Jesus as teaching and healing (Gibbs 2006, 47). The content of Jesus’ teaching is further identified as centered around the reign of God or the reign of heaven. While specific identification of the meaning of the kingdom is a challenge, it seems clear to Gibbs that this is the central idea. Matthew identifies the news of the kingdom as “good news” (4:23, 9:35, 24:10) (Gibbs 2006, 48). Gibbs observes that the term “of heaven” or “of God” is best identified as an objective genitive, thus suggesting that it is God or his kingdom performing the acts of the reign (Gibbs 2006, 49). This reign is manifested in the life and work of Jesus, though his disciples participate in it according to Jesus’ command.
Gibbs notes also that in Jesus’ parables of the kingdom, each one describes activity such as Jesus the king does in his reign (Gibbs 2006, 49). The activity of the kingdom further suggests to Gibbs that God is moving to establish his reign. “If God the King must come to reestablish his rule in creation, that pimples that the creation is still fighting against its Creator, even though in an ultimate sense God has remained King of kings and Lord of lords (Gibbs 2006, 50). The work of the kingdom is to restore creation to wholeness. The reign of God is also necessarily eschatological as well. As God restores the world to a right relationship with himself he will usher in the end of the fallen world as we know it.
Matthew’s Gospel, then, looks forward to a fulfillment of the Christian’s eschatological hope in Jesus, who will finish his work of fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies (Gibbs 2006, 52). Gibbs sees that Matthew wants his readers to find Jesus as the goal of God’s work with Israel (Gibbs 2006, 52). Jesus is the specific fulfiller of prophecy (Gibbs 2006, 53). He particularly fulfills predictive prophecies (Gibbs 2006, 53). He also shows himself as the one who interprets Scripture rightly (Gibbs 2006, 54). Because of this role of Jesus, we see that the message of all Scripture is cohesive. It all points to Jesus and his work, not to the kingdom of Israel.
Throughout Matthew’s Gospel the mission articulated by Jesus is clear: saving the lost and placing them into fellowship with God is the paramount work of Christ (Gibbs 2006, 55). Gibbs observes that this mission is for both Jews and Gentiles, who appear again and again in Matthew (Gibbs 2006, 56). In his work of mission, Jesus draws people to himself, extends calls to all sorts of people, and shows compassion through the disciples he sends out. They are carefully instructed and bring his message to others, sometimes successfully but sometimes not (Gibbs 2006, 57). Though Jesus calls all humans, only those who respond in faith are called his disciples or his brothers. Gibbs does not make an argument for a “brotherhood of all humans” point of view (Gibbs 2006, 58).